The ability to manage profitability through cost containment continues to be a challenge for many healthcare CEOs. Gone are the days of easy cuts. Nice to have versus necessity is a narrowing field of opportunity.
I believe the next area of focus for cost containment will be on the productivity side of the equation. This focus must go beyond doing more with less and will address the sub-optimization of our largest expenditure – people.
An unengaged employee is a less than productive employee accounting for a significant loss in enterprise value. Yet, as leaders, we often spend more time negotiating supply cost than we do on the analysis of the underlying reasons that our employees are not operating at their full potential.
Here are a few factoids on employee engagement:
According to annual Gallop surveys over the last decade, 7 out of 10 U.S. employees feel unengaged. This lack of engagement continues to be an ongoing concern.
According to Forbes, declining engagement is a top concern for HR executives.
The successful healthcare leader of the future will fully understand and deploy employees toward the mission of the organization. Simple engagement surveys don’t always provide an accurate picture. The fear of repercussion (even on confidential surveys) is detrimental to honest feedback. The analysis must go down to the specific leadership attributes displayed at the individual leader level.
In short, high levels of engagement have been found to correlate with an employee’s ability to make daily progress toward work they find meaningful. If this premise is accepted, the role of an effective leader becomes that of (1) selecting and deploying employees who find your work meaningful, (2) clearing obstacles that prevent an employee from making daily progress, and (3) holding leaders accountable for achieving #1 and #2.
Begin to look at labor as a cost that can be more deeply understood and effectively managed by applying the science of employee engagement.
Rod Brace, Ph.D.
Rod Brace, Ph.D. is the managing partner for Relia Healthcare Advisors specializing in culture assessment, operational excellence and leadership development in High-Reliability Organizations. He is a faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the ACHE.
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